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This Week in Jets History: Riggins Rumbles Against the Chiefs

NFL: Super Bowl 50-NFL Honors Red Carpet Entrances Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Note from John: We will be rolling out a number of new additions to Team GGN over the coming weeks. We are going to start with Machlin T, a long-time reader and commenter on this site who will be writing a weekly feature on something that happened this week in the past in Jets history.


This week in New York Jets History we look back to one of the few wins from the barren wasteland that was the Jets of the 1970s.

The 1975 Jets were a mostly forgettable outfit that went 3-11 as Joe Namath's rapid decline continued. However, when tasked with taking on the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, Namath and a pair of solid RBs named John Riggins and Carl Garrett got the job done.

Riggins was the bulldozing fullback while Garrett was a more versatile runner who the Jets picked up for peanuts that summer. Both would prove unstoppable as they combined for a whopping 270 yards rushing and 3 TDs.

Riggins and Garrett both scored on 1-yard TD runs in the first quarter, only to see Kansas City easily erase the 14-point deficit thanks to TD runs from Woody Green and Ed Podolak. Luckily, the Jets managed to pull ahead with a Pat Leahy FG before the half to give the Jets a 17-14 lead that they would never relinquish again.

During his 27 carry, 145 yard rushing performance, Riggins scored his second TD of the day in the third quarter to put the Jets up by nine, but the team failed to convert for extra points. Garrett, meanwhile, rushed 16 times for a career-high 135 yards and a whopping 8.4 yards per carry.

The Chiefs managed to inch closer to overtaking the Jets as Chiefs legend Len Dawson found Barry Pearson for a 36-yard TD pass later that third quarter to make the score 23-21 Jets.

But Namath, for all the beatings he took in the post-Super Bowl years, managed to lead a TD drive that culminated in a TD pass to TE Rich Caster in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach at 30-21. The Chiefs could only manage a FG for the rest of the quarter as the Jets held on for a 30-24 victory.

As one might expect in a game Joe Namath played in the 1970s, the Jets' legend did not play too well - going 7-of-14 for 126 yards, a TD and two INTs. Caster caught three of those seven completions for 69 yards and got the TD grab. Two of Namath's other four completions on the day went to the 26-year-old Riggins, who added 26 receiving yards to his 145 and 2 TDs on the ground.

Riggins would go on to rush for 1,005 yards and eight TDs while adding 363 yards through the air, earning the first and only Pro Bowl nod of his Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately, the Jets were either unable or unwilling to match Washington's $1.5 million contract offer and could only watch and weep as Riggins won a Super Bowl and became a legend in the nation's capital. Garrett, meanwhile, proved to be a one-game wonder as he never came close to rushing for 100 yards again for the Jets or any other team.

For the better part of an entire decade the Jets were rather unwatchable. And yet, even when you least expect it, a presumably bad team can put on one heck of a show if fans are willing to wait for it.